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Top Producer at 'Today' Fired

April 20, 2005|Matea Gold | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — NBC fired "Today" show executive producer Tom Touchet from his post Tuesday afternoon, shaking up the morning show juggernaut amid signs that ABC's "Good Morning America" is closing the gap with its top-rated rival.

Lauren Kapp, a "Today" spokeswoman, confirmed Touchet's removal but offered no specifics about his departure or replacement, saying that NBC would release more information about the change today.

The network is reportedly considering tapping NBC Sports producer James Bell and MSNBC executive Phil Griffin to take over the news program.

Touchet was a relative neophyte when he was chosen to lead the show in November 2002, plucked from the ranks of senior producers at Walt Disney Co.'s ABC, where he had worked for seven years. At General Electric Co.'s NBC, industry insiders say, he earned a reputation as a likable manager, though some doubted whether he was seasoned enough to shepherd the network's most profitable show.

Rumors of Touchet's impending dismissal had circulated for several days amid intensifying focus on the show's ratings.

"Today" is watched by an average 6 million people daily and brings in an estimated $300 million in advertising revenue a year. But in the last year, its lead over "Good Morning America" has been cut almost in half, to an average of 662,000 viewers.

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